Donald Trump has fired Steve Goldstein, the State Department official who challenged his account of firing Rex Tillerson.
The latest dismissal came in the midst of chaos in the White House after the President decided he would sack Mr Tillerson, who had served as his Secretary of State.
Following that firing, Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein released a statement that appeared to contradict Mr Trump’s account of the sacking. In it, he said that Mr Tillerson hadn’t heard about being fired until the President sent a tweet announcing it.
Mr Goldstein said the former Exxon Mobil CEO was “unaware of the reason” he was fired and “had had every intention of staying,” feeling he was making progress on national security.
“The secretary did not speak to the President and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve, and still believes strongly that public service is a noble calling,” Mr Goldstein said the statement.
Now Mr Goldstein himself has been fired, apparently as a result of that statement, according to NBC.
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He was reportedly called up by the White House after Mr Tillerson’s firing Tuesday and told that his services would no longer be needed.
Mr Goldstein has served in the State Department for less three months after he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate last year. He is seen as a being loyal to Mr Tillerson, and frequently attended meetings at the White House in his capacity at the State Department.
Mr Tillerson’s firing or resignation had been rumoured about for months as reports of a fraught relationship between him and the President have surfaced.
He had gotten himself into trouble with the White House repeatedly over the past year or so, and a rift between the two had reportedly gotten bigger over their preferred approaches to international diplomacy and priorities.
Last year, for example, Mr Tillerson got himself into his boss’ bad graces by saying Mr Trump’s statements questioning Latin American countries’ efforts to combat illicit drug trade were “not helpful”. Mr Tillerson was visiting the region at the time, and felt that the President’s comments were harming his ability to negotiate with those countries on the issue.
Mr Tillerson is also said to have once called the President a “moron” in private, after a meeting with Mr Trump. Mr Tillerson later denied doing so, but the reports caught the attention of Mr Trump, who later joked that he would like to challenge his secretary of State to an IQ test.
Mr Trump has said that he will nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to take over the State Department. Mr Pompeo could be confirmed by the Senate to take on that roll as soon as next month.